Millie's Something Special, by Tania Cox & David Miller

Millie sighed. “How can I be brave? I’m too small to stomp and roar and my feather’s aren’t meant for flying.”

Poor Millie. A small dinosaur with a long feathery tale, she has no means of protecting herself from big, bad Reggie. Each of her friends has something special to make them feel brave. But not Millie. She doesn’t thinks he’ll ever find her something special. Until she comes across Reggie late at night and is surprised when her tail tickles him and makes him laugh. At last it seems she’s found her special skill.

Millie’s Special Something is a delightful tale about unique talents, bravery, friendship – and the fun of tickling, too. Tania Cox’ text is beautifully brought to life by the paper sculpture illustrations for which David Miller is well known, full of detail and quirkiness.

Youngsters will love the dinosaur characters, and the message is gentle. Suitable for early childhood classrooms and at home enjoyment.

Millie's Special Something

Millie’s Special Something, by Tania Cox & David Miller
Working Title Press, 2012
ISBN 9781921504389

this book is available from good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Rufus the Numbat, by David Miller

Rufus the Numbat is just passing through.

Rufus doesn’t walk very fast. He’s just trying to make it to the bush. But to get there he has to cross people-territory and that’s where the trouble begins. Unbeknownst to him he distracts a cyclist who then fails to see danger ahead…and on it goes. Rufus just keeps on plodding, unaware of the chaos and destruction he’s unwittingly caused. The text is very spare. Illustrations are David Miller’s trademark paper sculptures set on paint and ink backgrounds.

On the surface, Rufus the Numbat is a very simple story of an animal taking a walk through unfamiliar territory. It’s not Rufus’ fault that disaster follows, is it? There’s a clear environmental message here about the effect man can have on nature without really even knowing it’s happening. Young children will just love the chaos and calamity. Older children will see the world from a new viewpoint. Artists will appreciate the amazing paper sculptures. Recommended for all ages.

Rufus the Numbat

Rufus the Numbat, David Miller
Ford St Publishing 2010
ISBN: 9781876462963

Reviewed by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased in good bookstores or online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Big and Me, by David Miller

Big and I do a lot of digging and lifting, trenching and filling. We’re a team, a good team, the best.
But some days Big goes a bit wobbly and I get a lot worried.

Big and Small are two machines working together on building projects. But when Big starts to malfunction, Small is affected. First, Big drives into the water, thinking he is a boat. Then he picks Small up and won’t put him down – because he thinks that the other machines want to hurt Small. Small turns to the boss and Mechanic, who find that Big’s computer is getting mixed up. They help Big to get better, and offer support to Small.

Big and Me uses the metaphor of a machine with computer problems to explore the topic of mental illness in adults. Small is cast as the child seeking to understand a parent’s mental illness, with the support of other adults and friends. This use of metaphor allows a fairly weighty and difficult topic to be dealt with in a way which even very young children will be able to connect with.

Author/Illustrator David Miller uses his renowned paper sculpture illustrations to bring the tale to life. The machines are created in 3D sculpture, then photographed. The backgrounds are muted, the blues and ochres providing colour, but still reflecting the serious nature of the story.

Big and Me is a gentle, realistic story which offers both hope and a path to understanding mental illness and its impact both on adults and children.

Big and Me

Big and Me, by David Miller
Ford Street, 2008

This book can be purchased online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Lofty's Mission, by Krista Bell

When Harley’s dad takes his young pigeon, Lofty, to donate for the war effort, Harley cries, sure that he’ll never see Lofty again. In Queensland, Lofty is trained by army officers to carry important messages, before being sent to New Guinea. There he flies hundreds of miles carrying messages from the field back to headquarters. When his platoon is ambushed, Lofty is injured as he carries a message, but survives. No longer able to fly, he is awarded a bravery medal and sent home to a relieved Harley.

Lofty’s Mission is a beautiful picture book telling a side of Australia’s wartime history that few children (or adults) would know about . Whilst Lofty’s tale is fictional, Australian breeders donated more than 13, 000 baby messengers to the army during 1942 and 1943, to be trained as messenger pigeons.

The text is wonderfully brought to life by the paper sculpture artwork of David Miller, an art form which will delight young readers. Released in time for ANZAC Day 2008, this superb book is suitable both for classroom use and private enjoyment.

Lofty’s Mission, by Krista Bell & David Miller
Lothian, 2008

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussierveiws.

Where There's Smoke, by Robin Lovell & David Miller

The day is getting very hot and the wind is picking up. I smell smoke…and ashes are blowing onto our place. I wave at a passing fire truck, which doesn’t stop.
What’s going on?

When fire sweeps through his area, Bodie watches with interest as firebreaks are cut and emergency vehicles dribe past. But when his home is threatened, Bodie becomes scared.

Where There’s Smoke is an important look at the work of emergency crews in dealing with bushfires. Whilst the story is fictional, the situation is very real, and the book explores the work of the emergency services, and the experience of children in emergencies, in a realistic way.

The paper sculpture illustrations, by acclaimed illustrator David Miller, are bright and clever, and youngsters will be drawn into the excitement of the story.

First published in 2005, this paperback edition is a welcome reprint.

Where There's Smoke

Where There’s Smoke, by Robin Lovell & David Miller
Lothian, 2005, this edition, 2007

This book can be purchased online at Fishpond.